BLACKWOOD, NJ — If Camden County continues on its current COVID-19 trajectory, doubling its rolling average from 30 cases to 60 in roughly the last month, it might mean the stoppage of sports and other school activities, Freeholder Jeff Nash said Thursday during a coronavirus press briefing.
The county tallied an additional 62 cases Wednesday, to bring its total to 11,777 and at least 566 deaths (new case updates will be released later Thursday). Nash, who was joined by Congressman Donald Norcross and Interim Executive County Superintendent, Dr. Lovell Pugh-Bassett, said the largest growth in new cases has been among people in the 18-30 age group. A case spike in the older population is beginning to rear its head as well, he said.
The health department is attributing the increase to small indoor gatherings. The freeholder clarified this point Thursday, saying that said gatherings refer to seemingly healthy people holding special events, parties or celebrations indoors - unknowingly transmitting the respiratory illness.
“The surge is not, I repeat not, because of school [re-openings]. It is not because of sports. It is not because of the indoor dining at our restaurants. The surge is being caused by a lot of small mistakes that add up really quickly during a very volatile crisis such as this,” Nash said. “With regard to Covid-19 cases in Camden County, increasing community spread...could lead to a closure of sports or school activities."
When asked what were some of her main concerns coming to the end of the first marking period for the more than 50 public, charter and renaissance districts in Camden County, Pugh-Bassett firstly said how the activities outside of school grounds impact those inside.
“Parallel to that…it would be making sure that we continue to address our most marginalized and vulnerable populations, making sure that we don't let students slide so far back that they struggle to try to be able to keep up when things get back to normal,” she said.
Another important factor Pugh-Bassett is mindful of is ensuring high school seniors have ample support as they seek to transition into higher education.
“Schools are doing an amazing job at trying to come up with some unique ways in servicing those populations,” Pugh-Bassett said.
Nash continued to encourage residents to get a flu shot, offered for free throughout the county. He also said a free food distribution event will be held Friday at 10:30 a.m. at St. Joseph’s Procathedral, 2907 Federal St. in Camden City for anyone in need.
Watch Thursday’s brief below: